Last night the Phoenix Coyotes lost their 3rd straight playoff game to the Detroit Red Wings. It was a crushing loss to be sure and in more ways than one. Due to the current ownership situation the loss means that Wednesday night's game may be the last on the Phoenix Coyotes play in Jobing.com arena. The Coyotes, Glendale and the NHL have a deal that would keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, however a "watch dog" group called the Goldwater Institute is jeopardizing it.
At issue is the way the deal is structured. The Goldwater Institute feels that it violates the Arizona State Constitution and is therefore threatening to sue if the deal goes through. The deal relies on the sale of bonds and the threat of the lawsuit has made potential bond buyers nervous enough that only half of the $100 Million have sold (at last check).
To say I'm not happy with the Goldwater Institutes threats would be an understatement. While I understand that they are "looking out" for the citizens of Arizona, they seem unwilling to yield even when a proposal to alleviate their concerns has been made. The potential buyer of the team is Matthew Hulsizer. He changed the terms of the deal in order to help alleviate the concerns of the Goldwater Institute. However, the Institute doesn't think the new terms are good enough. I don't blame Hulsizer for not wanting to change the deal again. At some point you have to say this is my best offer, take it or leave it. Unfortunately the Goldwater Institute doesn't have to take it. They just have to use scare tactics long enough for the bond sale to fail and the team to not be sold to Hulsizer.
This situation has been hanging over the team and the fans all season long. Jobing.com arena should have been rocking this year after the success (even though they didn't advance) against the Red Wings last year. However, when you are not sure whether or not the team you support will be in your town after the season it's hard to justify spending money on them. This is a huge shame as the team has played through this hurricane of politics and bickering to make the playoffs again.
So what's a fan to do? The Coyotes season is almost over. I don't think there is anyway to come back from 3 - 0 down in this series. Especially with 2 games in Detroit. It will be a sad day when this season ends. It will also make me angry if the deal with Hulsizer does not come through and the team is moved to Winnipeg as predicted. It's a shame that Glendale can't threaten to sue the Goldwater Institute with "Obstruction of Commerce" or some such thing to get them to back down.
If the Coyotes move hockey fans here will be left with few options. Who will be the regional team for Arizona? The L.A. Kings? Can't do that we hate them here as they are in the same division. Same goes for Anaheim and San Jose. Colorado? St. Louis or even (gasp!) Detroit? The answer is the same NO! Unfortunately if the Coyotes move then hockey will pretty much die here in Arizona. Also, the only major sports team to make the playoffs in 2011 will be no more.
I for one haven't given up complete hope. As long as the Coyotes are playing there is a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately Phoenix has a Herculean task ahead in order to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It might be an even bigger task to keep them here in Phoenix.